Questions to Ask Your Parent About Insomnia Before Going to the Doctor
Between 50 and 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder, according to a report by the Institute of Medicine. About 50 percent of people over the age of 60 struggle with getting a good night's sleep, and it could affect their overall health. Typical complaints are awakening frequently, not being able to fall asleep, waking up too early in the morning, and daytime napping.
Snoring is one common culprit that steals sleep from the elderly. When severe it can cause the snorer to wake frequently at night. This is because he's not breathing easily.
Snoring can signal a more serious sleep disorder common in the elderly, especially in men and especially if they're overweight: sleep apnea. This disorder can cause its sufferers to stop breathing temporarily, and it can also lead to high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack.
To prepare for a doctor visit to deal with sleeping problems, ask your parent the following questions:
Have you been feeling sad or despondent?
If your parent has felt sad or despondent for two weeks or longer, it could be a sign of depression. Insomnia is a symptom of major depression.
When did you start to have trouble sleeping?
Knowing this could help the doctor understand if the start of your parent's sleep problems coincided with the onset of mourning for the death of a loved one or friend, a physical illness, or the use of new medications.
What time do you go to sleep each night?
With age, our biological clock, the so-called circadian rhythms that control waking and sleeping, changes. Your parent may be going to bed too early, and her doctor may recommend that she stay up later.
How many times each night do you have to get out of bed to go to the toilet?
This may lead your doctor to ask if urinary incontinence is a problem, or in men it may indicate an enlarged prostate, which can increase the need to urinate. Frequent urination at night could also indicate a urinary tract infection or diabetes. If your parent takes diuretics, he may be taking them too late in the day. If there's no underlying condition, your parent's doctor may simply recommend cutting down on drinking fluids in the evening.